Back to where it all started for Jayden Stockley in Preston North End colours
Jayden Stockley returns on Wednesday night to the ground where he scored his first Preston North End goal and hopes that can be a good omen.
It was 21 months ago that the striker produced a fine finish to set the Lilywhites on their way to a 4-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers.
Stockley finished with superb accuracy from the edge of the box in the January 2019 visit to West London, that only his second game for the club.
The 27-year-old takes the view that he has improved since joining North End but is still working on aspects of his play.
A consistent run of games is no doubt top of his wish list as he aims to hone his craft in the Championship.
His statistics read 22 starts and 35 appearances from the bench in a PNE shirt, scoring eight goals.
Stockley is still kicking himself that he is not on nine, having missed a great late chance in Sunday’s defeat to Cardiff at Deepdale.
Hence he is hoping to get the chance to face QPR at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium and redeem himself.
“I think I have developed as a player since I’ve been at Preston,” said Stockley.
“My technical game has improved and I have more improving to do in the role I play.
“I have pushed myself every day, I’ve used all the minutes I get on the pitch to try and become a bigger part of the team.
“I feel sometimes that I’m having a massive impact on some games and it is in the games after that where I have to make more of an impact.
“I’ve got to try and get that level of consistency so when I do go out there, you know what you are getting from me. That is the pressure I put on myself.
“I have to do what I was brought here to do, not just put in a flash-in-the-pan performance where everything goes well and you get the plaudits.
“It is about the run of games which follows a good display.”
Stockley’s fluffing of the chance which came his way late in the Cardiff game, was enough to disturb his sleep that night.
He put a header straight at the Bluebirds goalkeeper from six yards, the type of chance which should be meat and drink to him.
Stockley said: “I should have scored, I know that.
“I was awake at 4am on Monday thinking about it, going through what happened in my head.
“It should have hit the back of the net, I was disappointed with myself.
“I’ve got to use it as fuel to go into the next game and get on the end of chances.
“You can’t brush it under the carpet, you can’t give yourself excuses.
“I’ve scored that type of goal in the past and I have to score more in the future if I want to be successful.
“It’s not a case of wanting to put the ball in the net, I have to put the ball in the net.”
If missing a chance is enough to wake him up at 4am, does scoring a goal have the same affect?
“It doesn’t work like that unfortunately,” said the former Bournemouth, Aberdeen and Exeter centre-forward.
“When you score a goal you enjoy it for a little bit but then forget about it. If you miss a chance that tends to play with your head a bit more.
“I’m not dwelling on the Cardiff one, I was just annoyed with myself.”
A midweek night trip to London might not have looked too appealing when the fixture list was published in the summer.
However, with North End’s home and away form contrasting greatly at the moment, there is potential for an enjoyable evening.
Stockley can’t put his finger on why results at Deepdale have been poor but accepts they have to get better.
“When you look at the Stoke game, that was only going one way until the sending-off,” said Stockley.
“We made a resounding start and were all over them.
“The Swansea and Cardiff games were very alike in that they were very cagey and one goal was going to win it.
“We are doing well away, we scored four goals against Brentford.”
Stockley had Emil Riis for company up front during his time on the pitch in the Cardiff game, both strikers thrown on from the bench.
The pair sit next to one another in the changing room, being 19 and 20 respectively in the squad number list.
Said Stockley: “Emil seems like a gentle giant and is a good lad.
“He’s not been here too much because he went away with Denmark during the international break.
“Emil sits next to me in the dressing room so I’ve chatted to him a lot.
“There’s no language barrier, he speaks really good English.
“But if we sat him between Ryan Ledson and Sean Maguire, their accents would confuse him!”